Joining a tech company for the first time at age 52 meant that I had to be open to new experiences. Like Mr. Disney, curiosity has always been my “joy juice,” the elixir that creates creativity and innovation in my life.
When I joined Airbnb in early 2013, and witnessed the enthusiastic global community, one of my early comments to the co-founders was, “We need to create a global event that allows our community to connect in person.” Ironically, the prior year, my book Emotional Equations came out where I said,
“Internet communities alone aren’t enough. We are naturally social beings who need the occasional hall pass to break out of our cybercell at home or work so we can connect with our flock. And if there’s one experience that can transcendentally unite a flock, it’s the experience of wonder and awe in a group setting.”
I’ve experienced this at TED, at Burning Man, and at the Sundance Film Festival, all pilgrimages in which curious tribes meet annually.
With those three landmark events as inspiration, I’m proud that our 3rd annual Airbnb Open debuts in five historic theaters in downtown LA in the middle of next month. Last year’s version, which was in Paris and attracted more nationalities than any other non-US company-sponsored event in history, received rave reviews before it was cut short by the tragic terrorist attacks. The common comment I heard in multiple languages (110 countries were represented) was, “I feel like I’ve met long-lost family,” as the passion and diversity of this home sharing movement is inspiring.
We’ve upped the ante big-time for this fall’s gathering. Cofounder and CEO Brian Chesky will be making our biggest company announcement ever and we’ll have 7,000 attendees for the three-day event plus an additional 15,000 for our Saturday night Spotlight LA party with Maroon5 and a series of other musical and artistic entertainment.
Take a look at the roster of speaking talent and imagine some of the one-hour sessions you might enjoy. “Eat Pray Love” author Liz Gilbert will talk about the transformative nature of travel and how to create “big magic” in your life.
Two genius restaurateurs, Danny Meyer and Michael Mina, will talk about how to create world-class hospitality organizations.
Architect Frank Gehry and Advertising Exec Lee Clow (who masterminded Apple’s ads for Steve Jobs) will riff on creativity. Gwyneth Paltrow, Ashton Kutcher, former attorney general Eric Holder, TOMS founder Blake Mycoskie…the talent line-up will surprise and delight you.
And we’ll be holding our inaugural Awards ceremony hosted by funnyman James Corden of the Late, Late Show (and Carpool Karaoke fame).
We’ll be selling out in the next couple of weeks, but if you’ve got an Airbnb guest or host account, you can join us. Trust me – as I know how much it costs to put on this mega-festival – this is the deal of the year and Airbnb does everything it can to subsidize the event and keep it affordable to our global community. If you’ve ever been curious about what “pure Airbnb” feels like, join us.
I’m humbled by the realization of this legacy, as my goal was to create a festival of travel and hospitality that would become admired as one of the ultimate, must-attend cultural events of our time. Just believe!